The Stages of Grief
A doctor named Elisabeth Kubler-Ross divided the steps of grief into five different stages. These stages of grief are described in a particular order, but all grieving people may not experience the different emotions in this order. Some people may go through them in a different order. Others may not experience one or more of the stages. Still others might move back and forth, repeating certain stages, then coming back to different ones.
The first stage is called “denial.” Our minds can do a very good job of not letting us believe something is true. We may think, “The doctor must have made a mistake” or “This must be a bad dream.”
The second stage is often “anger.” Expressions of anger may be directed toward anyone or anything, including slamming a door, breaking something, kicking a hole in the wall, or saying mean words to a loved one, a staff person or even a stranger. When a person responds with anger, that anger is probably not the only emotion he or she is experiencing. Feelings of fear, sadness, guilt, helplessness, and others can all be expressed in forms that appear to be anger.
Third is the “bargaining” stage. A grieving or dying person might bargain with a higher spiritual being and say something like, “If you only let me live long enough to see the birth of my grandchild, I will help the poor” or “If you heal my cancer, I will become a better person.”
The fourth stage of the grieving process is depression. When someone is depressed, normal everyday activities can become too difficult, and people can lose interest and pleasure in favorite activities. They sometimes distance themselves from the other people in their lives and choose to spend more and more time alone.
The fifth and final stage of grief is acceptance. When we accept something, we believe that it is true. When a dying person “accepts” approaching death, he/she believes that it is indeed going to happen and feels some level of peace or relief.